Jan. 18-24, 2002
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Hospital cancels employee raises
Legislators offer capital projects funding blueprint
U.Va. leads state in CVC giving for 10th year

Dr. Kesler, force behind the CMC, retires after 27 years

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Legislators offer capital projects funding blueprint

By Anne Bromley

The University stands to get more than $94 million for capital projects in the $1.6 billion plan unveiled Jan. 7 by two key House and Senate leaders.

The legislative plan — introduced at a press conference two days before the General Assembly session opened — by Sen. John H. Chichester (R), head of the Senate Finance Committee, and Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R), head of the House Appropriations Committee, provides for continuous funding to maintain and modernize facilities through debt or general funds at the state’s colleges and universities, as well as other state agencies.

Gov. Mark Warner, who was sworn in Jan. 12, did not endorse the plan but said in his first address to the legislature the following Monday, “I understand the capital needs of our colleges and universities. … But before I will support any specific bond proposal, we must weigh the cost of its annual debt service in the context of our overall financial plans.”

The $1.6 billion, seven-year package includes a general obligation bond bill, requiring voter approval in November, that would finance several of U.Va.’s highest priority projects, including the Medical Center research building known as MR-6, a new Arts & Sciences building and the Engineering School’s nanotechnology/material science building.

The plan would also restore funding for projects previously frozen by former Gov. Jim Gilmore — about $8.5 million for construction of the studio art building and almost $5 million for the new special collections library, as well as an additional $5 million for the Clark Hall renovation and $6 million to renovate Cocke Hall.

To ensure that capital funds can be made available every year without being subject to the current economic climate, the proposed bill would set aside up to $250 million a year when revenue growth is at least 8 percent, or substitute debt financing if needed.

Pres. John T. Casteen III said the plan would impose discipline for capital spending and get rid of the impasse that occurred in last year’s session. It would also depend on the new governor’s response.

“Gov. Warner will need to match this proposal against his other priorities and assess what impact it may have on his strategies to mitigate the current recession and build a strong recovery,” Casteen said.

Colette Sheehy, U.Va. vice president for management and budget, echoed Casteen, adding that the legislators’ plan shows a willingness to make a long-term commitment of resources for capital outlay.

Of the $1.2 billion dedicated to public colleges and universities, $177.8 million would go to delayed projects, $169.2 million to jumpstart projects that are ready to go, and $846 million to projects recommended in six-year capital plans. The rest of the money would go state parks, museums and other facilities.

“Seeing the House and Senate coming together like this early in the session — that’s a very positive thing,” said Nancy Rivers, U.Va.’s director of state governmental relations.

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